Testimony in support of NY City Council’s rules reform.

Date: Wednesday, 6 May 2014

From: Noel Hidalgo, Executive Director of BetaNYC

To: NY City Council’s Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections.

Subject: Amend the Rules of the Council in relation to improving the responsiveness, transparency, fairness, and inclusiveness of the City Council.


Dear Speaker, Chairperson, and Council Members,

It is a great honor to come before you and represent New York City’s technology community. Particularly, a rather active group of technologists – the civic hacker.

BetaNYC is pleased to see most of these proposed rules. First, we ask the Council to ensure that the legislative tracking system is deployed with a public application protocol interface (API). Additionally, we are excited for the Speaker to create a Public Technology Plan.

BetaNYC works to create a New York City government for the people, by the people, for the 21 century. Every day, we ask “how can we build tools to make a difference in people’s lives and increase opportunities of engagement for all New Yorkers?

To truly ensure that this plan is as public as possible, we ask the Council to consider three things:

Host Civic Technology Townhalls and Listening Sessions

We ask that the Council hold its own series of civic technology townhalls and listening sessions. These townhalls should be in all five boroughs and ensure the diversity of New York is represented. At these sessions, we ask you to ask us “how can we deploy tools to make a difference in people’s lives and increase opportunities of engagement for all New Yorkers?

Within these townhalls, we ask the Council to take a leading role and help connect the city’s technology community to the communities that are traditionally under represented. Together, let us find technology tools and engagement strategies that bring us together and create ONE New York.


Consider Open Technology First

Just as you ask for public comments on pending legislation, open technology extends that ideology to technology. The same openness and participatory environment that governs this city should govern our online and technological engagement tools.

When the Council considers adopting new technologies, we ask the Council first consider open and adaptable tools. Across the planet, these open source tools have proven themselves to be secure, flexible, and builds public trust.

Also, we want to help. Adopting open source technology ensures the city’s technology community can help you build a connected city for the 21st century. By adopting open source technology, the Council can stand on the shoulders of giants and ensure all New Yorkers have the ability to grow this democracy.


Create a City Council Chief Information or Technology Officer

Lastly, we reiterate our initial ask for a Council Chief Information or Technology Officer.

The Council needs its own technology representative. The Council needs an internal technology advocate who can best represent opportunities to Council members and the city’s technology community. Most importantly, the Council needs someone who can ensure a cost effective implementation of the Council’s Public Technology Plan.

We thank you for your time and leadership,

Noel Hidalgo
Co-founder and Executive Director of BetaNYC